A Guide to Starting Star Wars Figure Collecting

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Hi Guys,

I've been interested in starting to collect Star Wars Figures, but I don't really have any idea where to start. I've heard of some of the terms here and there, like Vintage Collection, Black Series, and some of the size variations, but that's about it. Is there a guide somewhere that talks a person through all the options, for example here on these forums, a website, or maybe a Youtube Video or two?

Any help you could offer would be really helpful, and most appreciated.

LukeonWheels
 
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There are hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of Star Wars action figures that have been made. Are you looking to buy a certain scale? There's the 3 3/4" figures and the 6" scale. The black series usually refers to the 6" figures, but there are some 4" black series figures as well. Vintage Collection is going to be figures/vehicles in the 4" scale that have the classic silver striping. Rebelscum has a Hasbro photo guide:

http://rebelscum.com/hasbro.asp
 
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Hello there,

I've not seen a guide per say, but there are books on the subject of Star Wars action figures ("Star Wars Action Figure Archive" or "Star Wars The Ultimate Action Figure Collection", etc) that you might want to browse to see what interests you. You can also check out the photo archives on this ( http://www.rebelscum.com/hasbro.asp ) and other sites to see current releases, as all the books were released a number of years ago. The options for collecting are really endless, because it changes all the time. First you should decide if you prefer to do a character / movie focus, or collect in general. Depending on that, its best to pick a scale. My preference is the 3.75 scale, because there are literally hundreds of different characters to choose over the years - no other scale offers that variety, nor ever will. You should also be conscience about your budget, and the pricepoint of various lines. Its important to decide whether you'll start collecting with what's available now, or if you'll retroactively try to collect all or some of what's come before. Space is consideration for many, so plan out how you want to display your collection, and how it will be stored. My best advice though - buy what you love, as that's the most fulfilling part of the hobby.
 
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Hey guys, thanks for your responses, I really appreciate it.

I am very aware that there is so many hundreds of Star Wars Figures, that's what makes me so overwhelmed by the whole process, so any feedback is really helpful.

In collecting, I'd like to pick a collection that offers as much choice and coverage as possible, mostly in characters. If there's a ship I really want, there would be a very small amount, so I'd likely just get one I really wanted, the one that looked best, but when it comes to the characters themselves, I want to stick with a single line. I'd also like to go beyond just characters from the movies, as I love the animated series, the comics and the books. I used the reboot of the entire timeline that came with Disney's purchase of Lucasfilm as the perfect opportunity to stay up to date with the new canon, and begin reading all the extended material that was released after this point-I'd never read any Star Wars books before this point. So I'd be pursuing figures of Luke, Leia and Han just as much as Doctor Aphra, Thrawn and Ahsoka.

It sounds like the 3.75, or three and three quarter inch scale, is the one for me. Is this part of the Black Series? Or something else?

LukeonWheels
 
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The Black Series was once a label for all super articulated figures, both 3.75 and 6 inch, until TVC was brought back. TBS (The Black Series) is now a 6 inch line. TVC (The Vintage Collection) is a 3.75 assortment on the original Kenner cardbacks, but covering characters from the entire saga, and the EU. The other 3.75 options are retail are the Retro Collection, which are replica Kenner figures on vintage cardbacks as well as the Star Wars Universe line which currently only has animated Resistance figures. The same universe line was a basic 3.75 line for movies like Solo and The Last Jedi, which are realistically sculpted like TVC, but don't feature as much articulation. Some of those figures can still be found at retail. There is no single 3.75 line that covers everything though, especially if you want some of the unique figures from years past. Are you planning on keeping them carded, or loose?
 
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Thank you so much for your quick response, it's really appreciated, once again. Can I just ask a couple of questions to make sure I'm following you right, and not getting anything wrong?

So is TBS solely six inches now?
My 3.75 options then are TVC, Retro Collection, and the Star Wars Universe Line?
Do these collections look similar stylistically? If you had figures of these collections side by side, would it be obvious they're from different collections, and different styles?
Would you say TVC has the widest range of characters available then?
What does "Carded" and "Loose" mean exactly? I've heard the term "Carded" before, but don't know what it means.

LukeonWheels
 
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Most of the "styles" for the modern 4" action figures are the same.

The original vintage line was much simpler in terms of sculpts/articulation/paint applications.

When the line was revived in 1995, the figures were buff and the figures have generally gotten more accurate as the years have gone by. The figures that would stand out from the standard "style" would be certain Clone Wars figures (from the original 2D line and from the newer line based on the CGI animated series). Some of the figures with comic-based colors may look a bit odd among other figures.

Depending on the line, some figures are going to stand out more than others. The Rebel Fleet soldier from 1997ish looks completely ridiculous next to say a Vintage Collection Darth Vader. Other figures from that time are not as bad. Momaw Nadon and a lot of the other aliens/creatures still look okay today (although most of them have had newer/more accurate figures made). Here's a link for a comparison tool:

http://jedibusiness.com/compare.aspx?id=4834&view1=view2&id2=3661&view2=view8

Carded means the figure is still "new" and in the package. Loose means the action figure has been removed from its original packaging.
 
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Sounds like if you are more interested in the characters and just the occasional vehicle then you are probably going to enjoy the 6" Black Series the most. The most recent offering in recent years have been excellent since Hasbro started doing their "face print" technology. The figures look much nicer than the older 6" figures.

It's a good time to start collecting the 6" Black Series because you can get the new stuff that is coming out, but you can also get the 6" Black Series "Archive" collection where Hasbro has re-released some favorites and has made some improvements when possible by using the face print tech. These figures were some of the older figures that have been very expensive to get on the secondary market.
 
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Just a note that some 4" figures use the "photo-real" technology as well.
 
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Thank you so much for your quick response, it's really appreciated, once again. Can I just ask a couple of questions to make sure I'm following you right, and not getting anything wrong?

So is TBS solely six inches now?
My 3.75 options then are TVC, Retro Collection, and the Star Wars Universe Line?
Do these collections look similar stylistically? If you had figures of these collections side by side, would it be obvious they're from different collections, and different styles?
Would you say TVC has the widest range of characters available then?
What does "Carded" and "Loose" mean exactly? I've heard the term "Carded" before, but don't know what it means.

LukeonWheels
Yes, TBS is solely a 6 inch line now - and if you plan to buy ships / vehicles - the 6 inch range has very few. The 3.75 scale is diverse though, and they've covered immense ground over the years. Ever since the vintage days, the smaller 3.75 figures were designed to be compatible with vehicles.

Your options of
TVC, Retro Collection, and the Star Wars Universe Line are only what's currently shipping to retail. There is also a current 3.75 Galaxy of Adventures line, which is made up of core heroes / villains. Both TVC and GOA are realistically sculpted, based on movie appearance. The Retro figures are based on the Kenner sculpts, so those are pure nostalgia. The Resistance line is based on the cartoon, so while they're the same scale, they look slightly different because the sculpts are animated, so they're a bit thinner, have longer legs, etc. I personally mix-and-match everything in the 3.75 range, but some people aren't into the animated figures. There are a number of animated figures that look great when mixed with other realistically sculpted figures, so you can easily combine collections. My suggestion is to not limit yourself to one collection or only what's currently at retail, because most of the amazing characters from previous years may never be repacked or resculpted.

I think your other questions were answered. Like I mentioned, check out the photo archives and see what strikes you.

 
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Thanks guys, this is all really helpful! In regards to carded or loose, I'd probably take the figures out of the packaging so I can display them in a nice way. Just to confirm, when it comes to the vehicles, if I do get any, and it's a big if, I'd buy regardless of anything else I had. I don't care about matching the vehicle to any figures I may or may not have, so it really doesn't factor into my decision on the figures.

Also, by four inch, are you meaning the 3.75 inches, or are four inches another scale option?

So you advise that I not restrict myself to a single Collection found within 3.75 inches? I could combine TVC, Retro Collection, Star Wars Universe Line, GOA as my heart desires, and if I think it looks good?

What do you mean by "Shipping to Retail"? Does it mean that some lines are currently discontinued? So if it's not at retail, I'd have to go online to eBay or something to get older figures?

LukeonWheels
 
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Happy to help - I prefer my collection loose as well, so that they can be appreciated and displayed, especially in dioramas, etc. If you don't open your figures, what's the point of giving them any articulation at all, right? 3.75 and 4 inch are the same thing - some figures simply vary in height, for example - Chewbacca will be much taller than Princess Leia in any modern line.

As I mentioned, I suggest you browse the various lines at retail and in the photo archives to see what you like, and what level of articulation you prefer. TVC is a super articulated line, and they tend to contain 14 or more points of articulation (joints). The other lines: Retro, Universe, and GOA are "basic" lines which means they have varying articulation - most are 5 POA (points of articulation), others 7 POA, even up to 9 POA in some cases. The articulation can be different based on each character. By shipping to retail, I mean what's out at stores now. There are countless 3.75 lines from years past, but the vast majority were only around for a specific movie release. When Episode I came out in 1999, it had its own 3.75 movie line, twenty years later, its obviously no longer at retailers. You can find old figures on ebay or you can search for toy / collectible / comic stores in your area. Let us know how the hunt goes - good luck!
 

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A simple rule is, "Buy what you like (and can afford)".
You are making it easy on yourself by not limiting yourself to specific brands or sizes.

Since you are starting from scratch, ask yourself a couple of questions.
How much do you want to spend?
What condition do you want them in? (You said you are an opener but do you want minty fresh complete figures or are beaters acceptable?)
How much space do you have for it? (Really important)
How patient are you? Would you rather build a large collection quickly or slowly cultivate a specific one?
How much time and effort do you want to put into it? (When I travel I look up toy stores in that area and I also visit thrift stores several times a week.)
Is it worth the time and gas to physically hunt for toys, and is the thrill of the hunt worth it?

The next step is to research your town to see what toy stores you have. I'd recommend planning on going to each place twice. The first time is to price shop. Many times you will find something considerably cheaper in another store (I bought 3 carded Jawa packs at on place for a total of $12 but saw the same toy selling for $20 each.)
However, if you go to a far away place and they only have a couple of items then you may want to buy them then and never go back.
Check out your flea markets, swap meets and conventions. Even if they are small, they might have some gems to find and because they are small, the prices might also be better. Our FanExpo costs $50-70 to get in (+ $20 for transportation + food). The prices there are probably higher but they might have rarer items. We have smaller conventions where the admission is only $10 and cheap loose figure are plentiful. The $70 I save going there buys a lot of stuff.

When most people talk about scale, 4" = 3.75 = 1:18 scale figures. There are a few brands (EX: Bend-Ems) that are actually 4"s but most people consider them off scale. Now, if you get into other franchises (DC, Fortnite) then those figures are truly 4".

Once you get into it you will start to ask more questions (Are repros and Ebay factory seconds ethical?; Do variants interest me?)

Something else to think about is if you have an interest in customizing or building dioramas/display areas. Even if you think this is something you may want to do in the future, now is the time to start collecting parts and fodder figures.

Finally, if you ever buy any Vintage (Kenner) sealed items and open them, be prepared to be chastised if you ever post that you've done it.
 
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I agree with wanting your collection loose, it certainly makes more sense in the vast majority of cases. Figures are made to be displayed and played with, after all.

Thank you for the clarification on height, now you point it out, it's obvious. The same would naturally be true of Yoda and R2 as well.

I'll do what you suggest on the 3.75 inch line, looking at the various collections at that scale, and mix and matching based on the looks I like, and the characters that I want.

As I'm disabled, I'm not going to be one to travel all over Britain managing to get figures from different stores, even local toy stores-there's not many left, and I can't easily get to them anyway. But I always shop around online, so I'll remember your advice Utinniii, thank you.

Thank you all so much for your help, and I'll be sure to post here when I buy my first figure!

LukeonWheels
 
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